How to clone your wardrobe Jurassic Park style

You know when you those scientists in Jurassic Park cloned dinosaurs but they didn’t have all the DNA they needed?

So they decided to wing it and fill in the gaps with some bits of frog DNA? And Jeff Goldblum was all, ‘baaaad idea’ and he was pooh pooed and then ultimately vindicated when lots of people got eaten?

I may be heading for a Velociraptors in the visitor centre moment.

Below is a knit dress from Whistles that’s very similar to a black one I bought there in December. [Heavily discounted I  hasten to add.]

My version has a waffle-y texture, bust darts and an exposed gold zip at the back. The skirt had several box pleats and two angled patch pockets.

As soon as I put it on it felt fantastic. Warm, easy and stylish. So I knew another version could easily find a place in my wardrobe. All I had to do was clone it.

Quite a few dressmaking bloggers try their hand at this and I’d successfully copied the spawner’s cardigan for Christmas. But the Whistles dress has a few complicating factors. For a start it’s black, so the details are harder to see through the paper and the combination of thick fabric featuring darts, pleats and a neck facing means it’s quite awkward getting a good outline of the shape.

Especially since I seemed to have come up with a method that flies in the face of received wisdom. For instance, Ali of The Wardrobe Reimagined wrote a great post in October about how she created a pattern by copying a blazer she already owned.

Essentially she laid out her jacket over a piece of paper, and pushed pins through the jacket’s seams so they made holes in the pattern paper underneath. After she had marked the seams and other key elements such as darts , she took the jacket off  the paper and then used the holes to do a ‘connect-the-dots’ outline. Darts and other shaping features then have to be added to this piece.

As soon as I try to work out how to insert a dart in a piece of paper with no dart…my brain implodes. I know there MUST be a wonderful tutorial out there but I don’t think I can handle it yet.

So instead I improvised:

I measured the dart, drew it out on a piece of baking parchment (tracing paper-like) with a horizontal line at the base extended out, folded this dart up as if it was a piece of fabric, and then pinned the paper over the dress part I was trying to copy, with the paper dart lined up with the dress dart.

Similarly for the skirt piece, I measured the depth of the box pleats and their distance from each other, recreated them on a piece of baking paper and then laid this over the skirt piece.

Once I’d pinned the paper onto the dress, I began to jab away at the seams through the paper with a pin, creating a connect-the-dots shape for me to join up. I then added the seam allowance.

The problem is, I think some of that frog DNA has crept in due to the difficulties in getting an accurate outline of the dress pieces. If I’ve got an accurate enough copy, then I could be on to a winner. Right now though, my inner Jeff Goldblum is very sceptical.

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6 Responses to How to clone your wardrobe Jurassic Park style

  1. __cui says:

    Don’t worry, as Dr Hammond said, “life will find a way” and so will your clone dress. Are these for sale btw?

    • Life finding a way did leave Samuel L Jackson as just a chewed-on arm. When you say ‘for sale’ do you mean the Whistles dresses or my dodgy clone? If the former, I bought mine in a department store sale, not sure if the current sale offers the same discount. If the latter, I’m touched by your faith in a successful end result but I would feel like a fraud if I asked anyone to buy what I make.

  2. Pingback: The tiger who came to tea dress | the secret life of seams

  3. Nina says:

    Have you got Cal Patch’s book, ‘Design-It-Yourself Clothes’? My mum and I bought it because we’d heard it told you how to copy shop-bought clothes. Then we were really disappointed that it only has a couple of pages about that, but actually if you read the rest of the book, which is all about drafting your own patterns from scratch, I think the copying becomes much easier.

    • Hi Nina! I do have the Cal Patch book and I agree, learning about drafting does take away some of the nervousness from copying clothing. Have you copied anything yet? Or drafted from scratch?

  4. Pingback: Metal polka dot dress | the secret life of seams

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